Spacecraft

"A starship is a weapon, but it's the crew that makes it deadly."
―An old spacer's line[src]

Fighters PotJThe SunGem (left), a Jedi Starfighter (bottom right) and a Whitecloak fighter (top right)

A starship, also known as a starcruiser or spaceship, was a vessel designed for interstellar travel, specifically between star systems.

Starships were commonly powered by ion engines, the most common form of sublight drives, and many—usually the larger vessels—were equipped with hyperdrive generators, used to reach hyperspace as lightspeed would not be fast enough. Light-years would take years to travel across using sublight drives. Across the galaxy, many starships were armed, usually with laser cannons. Capital ships often featured turbolaser emplacements or missile launchers, and some featured hangar bays that could carry starfighters. Weapons helped defend against star pirates and military forces. Deflector shields countered the effects of laser weaponry, protecting the starship from attack. Once these shields fell the captain would surrender to their attackers.

A starship's bridge was its control room, most often seen at the stern of large vessels such as Star Destroyers and other capital ships. Smaller ships, like transports and fighters, had cockpits rather than actual bridges.

The bridge was an essential part of the craft. Most of the time, the controls to a starship's subsystems were located here. The bridge was therefore usually the first area of a starship to be targeted when under attack. Knocking out the bridge usually rendered the starship useless for the duration of the battle. For example, when the Imperial Super Star Destroyer Executor had its bridge obliterated by an out of control RZ-1 A-wing interceptor during the Battle of Endor, she plunged out of control into the second Death Star, and was destroyed.

Intergalactic starflight became possible with the invention of the dual-drive system, which included an anti-grav drive to exit a system's gravity well, allowing inter-system travel, and a hyperdrive system for faster-than-light travel.

Orbital vehicle" redirects here. For the Indian manned spacecraft, see ISRO Orbital Vehicle.
More than 100 Russian Soyuz manned spacecraft (TMA version shown) have flown since 1967, originally for a Soviet manned lunar program, but currently supporting the International Space Station.
The US Space Shuttle flew 135 times from 1981 to 2011, supporting Spacelab, Mir, and ISS. (Columbia's first launch shown)

A spacecraft is a vehicle, vessel or machine designed to fly in outer space. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo.

On a sub-orbital spaceflight, a spacecraft enters space and then returns to the surface, without having gone into an orbit. For orbital spaceflights, spacecraft enter closed orbits around the Earth or around other celestial bodies. Spacecraft used for human spaceflight carry people on board as crew or passengers from start or on orbit (space stations) only, while those used for robotic space missions operate either autonomously or telerobotically. Robotic spacecraft used to support scientific research are space probes. Robotic spacecraft that remain in orbit around a planetary body are artificial satellites. Only a handful of interstellar probes, such as Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, and New Horizons, are currently on trajectories that leave our Solar System.

Orbital spacecraft may be recoverable or not. By method of reentry to Earth they may be divided in non-winged space capsules and winged spaceplanes.

Currently, only twenty-four nations have spaceflight technology: Russia (Roscosmos, the Russian Space Forces), the United States (NASA, the US Air Force, SpaceX (a U.S private aerospace company)), the member states of the European Space Agency, the People's Republic of China (China National Space Administration), Japan (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and India (Indian Space Research Organisation).

Spacecraft and space travel are common themes in works of science fiction.

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